OCT 15/2014 Change to page – I have been chatting with some readers and they would like this page more direct and easier to use. I will leave the original page information at the bottom starting with AA flight search.
“Avios” points are my preferred way to travel. After reading blogs for the last couple of years, these are the most efficient use of travel points for my particular circumstance.
Now, British Airways runs Avios, and they are part of the Oneworld Alliance with American Airlines and US Airways, and that’s what you need to know.
Travel points are things like Aeroplan, Air Miles, Avios, etc.
When you book a flight on American Airlines,(or US Air) you would normally book through the site that tells you how much money each flight is.
Well now you go to BA.com and look for your flights.
After you sign in you go to Executive Club/Spending Avios/Book flights with Avios.
This is the screen you will get.
So then you pick the cities you would like to travel between, dates, class and I leave passengers at 1 for the search.
A screen like this show you there are 7 flights available Dec 30 from Detroit to Miami in Economy.
For my purposes, that is what I need to see. You may not find much availability at first or all availability in First Class.
That is part of the process. Finding flights you want.
You may also see a screen like this.
Now this says your flight isn’t direct, which means you may have to pay more Avios as this flight goes from Detroit to Charlotte for 4500 Avios and then Charlotte to Tampa for 4500 Avios. Total of 9000 Avios – if this flight was direct it would be 7500 Avios.
This all takes time and patience to learn so get an account and start plugging in numbers!
So, you put in your information and the dates and you get a screen like this.
You are looking for the green squares or 12.5K. These are the MileSAAver awards you can book using your Avios for Economy seating if available – ON THE BA WEBSITE!!!
Now, I can tell you Detroit to Miami is 10,000 Avios each way or 20,000 Avios total
If you had AAdvantge points it would be 25,000 points,(12500 x 2) which is similar to Aeroplan for this distance.
If you find a departure date to your liking, say Dec 31 and even better a return as well, say Jan 7, you can get that flight for 20,000 Avios using the BA website if available.
Now, I just checked that, and there are no economy seats available. It is only First Class for 66,000 Avios.
What to do?
You can keep searching on BA.com for the flights you want to find…if you have time!
You can go to Award Nexus and look for the flights.
Here is a screenshot of their page – not exactly the same flight as below I look up with expert flyer, but you get the idea.
All I will say about Award Nexus is I just tried it and it works – I found the Cleveland flight I describe below(Dec 1). Since I am not well versed on this site, I will leave that to you if you wish. If you get an account at Flyertalk you can get a free limited subscription to Award Nexus, which for many of you should be fine to find the occasional flight.
What I do, and find simple to use is go to expertflyer.com.
You can get a free trial for 5 days last I checked – so go there and check it out! This site finds the award seats that AA might not show you. Yes, a full year subscription is around $100.00, but worth it! They do not pay me to say that lol.
Click “Awards and upgrades”
Fill in your info on where you are going and what dates plus or minus a few days – you need to be flexible.
Pick Airlines – American Airlines
Class – Coach – T – SEARCH
Here is an example of what comes up.
This means there are at least 6 flights on Sat. March 8 on flight AA3584 from Cleveland to Miami that you can book for only 15,000 Avios total! Try to get the zero connection flights if you can.
Looks like you can book 7 flights in AA3458 on March 15 back to Cleveland, and if you want to stop in Chicago(ORD) you could book a total of 5. (7 to Chicago, but only 5 from Chicago back to Cleveland)
Remember you can book a one-way or round trip flight using your points. You can book other, non MileSAAver flights (grey boxes) but that costs you more points, which is what I avoid.
You need to sign up for a BA executive account firstly, which is free.
They use Avios as their “currency”. Just like Air Canada use Aeroplan.
You will use your Avios to fly on American Airlines or US Air which is a partner of B.A.
Why? Because most roundtrip flights are either 9000, 15000, or 20000 points, which is great.
This is why I use Aeroplan as my secondary points to collect. For the flights I want to take on Air Canada they are all 25000 points. Ie. Toronto – Tampa
They are all “long haul”. But even the short haul fights are 15000 points, which under Avios would either be 9000 or 15000 points. There may be a couple? of instances where it is cheaper to use Aeroplan, but to me and my family, not worth it to collect as my #1 priority.
Longer flights are where it pays off to collect Aeroplan as 25000 points to go across Canada or a great distance in North America can be a good deal!
Luckily MR points can be converted 1:1 to Aeroplan so the Goldcard is still a great card to get.
Here is a great article by TPG to calculate how many points are necessary to fly to your destination, including other information which is quite informative.
That is from The Points Guy who I do follow everyday, but is American.
Once you sign up you can play with the flight calculator to see how many points your flight would cost you, and look for sweet spots!
Quick example – 4 flights from Detroit(DTW) to Tampa(TPA) are 20,000 x 4 = 80,000 points.
4 flights from Cleveland(CLE) to Miami(MIA) are 15,000 x 4 = 60,000 points.
So, by driving a couple extra couple hours to Cleveland, you save 20,000 Avios, or if you monetize that, about $400.00 or so. (If you fly out of Toronto to Miami it is 80,000 plus about $200.00 in fees – that is another reason to fly out of the US)
Here is the booking site I use for this when you get a password.
When booking you will notice AA has hubs in places like Chicago and Miami, so you might not get straight flights all the time.
I must say that I am looking for the most economical ways of flying that I can find. I won’t include flights in Business class, etc because I won’t use my points that way. You may choose to do it that way, and there are other bloggers out there that focus on flying that way and other such luxuries that I don’t get into.
Many bloggers have pointed out the best way to fly short to medium haul flight within the US, is by using Avios through American Airlines, so it’s not as if I just thought this up!
There are many articles out there on this, and this is not my purpose in this blog – my purpose is to find travellers like myself(Southern Ontario, family of 4) cheap ways to get to places they like.
Another great thing about Avios is the conversion partners that allow you to convert their points to Avios. Sometimes they have a bonus, and that’s when you load up on Avios.
Starwood points (which is one of the 2 credit cards I suggest you get) always give you a 25% bonus when redeeming points in 20,000 increments, meaning if you have 20,000 Starpoints you will get 25,000 Avios.
They will sometimes even run a bonus on that where you could get more Avios.
Another example Marriott rewards usual conversion rate to Avios is 70,000:25,000, meaning if you had 70,000 Marriott points you could exchange them for 25,000 Avios. Well, I had 70,000 Marriott points which is good for 3-4 nights in an average hotel. I generalize a lot about these hotels nights, but that is about right. Call it $700.00 worth of hotels at $.01 per point.
There was a bonus period (and these occur often) where you could get 25% more Avios on these conversions, so I ended up with 31,250 Avios. Sure you may say that’s worth less than the Marriott points, but I wanted Avios, and that eventually got me 2 flights to Miami(30,000 Avios) which were going for $475.00 each. So, now those Marriott points are worth $950.00 in flights. And yes…all free with no annual fee!
You need to be creative and read the blogs that are out there.
You can always to to flyertalk.com and read as much as want on the subject here.
That’s about it, get a BA executive account, and it wouldn’t hurt to get an American Airlines account and US Air account as well. You know what? All bloggers say to sign up for as many “frequent flyer” programs as there are out there. That’s good advice. *Remember to keep your logins and passwords somewhere safe as you will have many if you take up this fun hobby!